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however, more probably be ascribed to their superstition than to their toleration.
Elegant language is much affected by the Persians in conversation; and they are very proud of introducing quotations from the works of their most distinguished poets, so that their best talk is a kind of mosaic of poetical quotations. Nor is this confined to persons of rank and education; it is common to them and the dregs of the people, because those who have had no education, and cannot even read and write, take advantage of the readiness and retentiveness of their memories to learn by heart a great number of striking passages, which they omit no opportunity of producing in conversation, not always, it must be admitted, with the happiest effect. They are also very clever at irony and punning.
Endowed with a supple and intriguing disposition, they have agreeable manners, and extreme politeness; but this politeness is little better them a jargon of high-flown compliments and hyperbolical expressions, without sense or feeling. "Your presence has made all Persia a garden"-" Persia is unworthy of your acceptance," and such like expressions are specimens of this tendency to hyperbole
and exaggeration; and however impertinent it may seem to Europeans, the neglect of such kind of compliments would seem to the Persians an omission of the common forms of politeness. What major Scott Waring says of the people of Shiraz, is applicable in a considerable degree to the whole of the Persians—although it may be admitted that the people of the Shiraz districts afford full-blown examples of the common Persian characteristics. He says, "The people appear to me mean and obsequious to their superiors, and to their equals if they have a prospect of advantage, but invariably arrogant and brutal in their conduct towards their inferiors; always boasting of some actions they never performed, and delighted with flattery, although they are aware of the imposition. I have repeatedly heard them compliment a person, either in his hearing or in the presence of some one who would convey the adulation to his ears; and the instant that he has departed, their praises have turned into abuse, and they have with malicious pleasure exposed the character they have a moment before praised with fervent servility. Indeed, so loth are the Persians to admire anything from which they can derive no advantage, as
to confine themselves in their expressions of admiration to Bad neest, 'It is not bad;' but if the property be their own, no words or description can do justice to its excellencies."
This spirit of exaggeration and insincerity is not confined to their personal intercourse with one another; it insinuates itself into public affairs, as well as into the humbler relations between man and man. Not long after the arrival of the English embassy under sir Gore Ouseley, at Teherân, the confidential secretary of the grand vizier, accompanied by Meerza Abul Hassan Khan, who had been ambassador from Persia to the British camp, came one morning in great agitation to announce a victory gained by the prince royal over the Russians. Their account was, that the Persians had killed two thousand men, and taken five thousand prisoners, with twelve guns. The real truth was soon learned, which reduced their advantage to three hundred killed, two guns taken, and five hundred prisoners. On being questioned why they exaggerated so much, when they must be certain that the real facts must speedily transpire, the ready answer was: "If we did not know that your stubborn veracity would have come in the way, we should
have said ten times as much. This is the first time our troops have made any stand at all against the Russians; and you would not, surely, restrict so glorious an event in our history to a few dry facts."
A poet of Crete, quoted with approval by the apostle Paul, has left upon his people this character of infamy :-" The Cretans are always liars." It would seem incredible that this character, in all the emphasis of the expression, should be truly applicable to any people, had we not the Persians of this day to evince the possibility of this depth of degradation. To them it is applicable in the utmost force of its meaning. Philosophers have held it for a maxim, that the most notorious liars utter a hundred truths for every lie they tell. But this is not the case in Persia; the people are unacquainted with the beauty of truth, and only think of it when it is likely to advance their interests. The father of history reports of the ancient Persians, that from their fifth to their twentieth year, the children are instructed in the use of the bow, horsemanship, and a strict regard to truth. The last item of this statement has been quoted as a striking illustration of the difference between ancient and modern customs;
although it may be questioned whether the speaking of truth being so much a matter of formal instruction and acquirement, along with archery and horsemanship, does not in fact recognise the ancient existence of the national tendency to untruthfulness. Be that as it may, the Persians are not now even taught to speak truth. "There does not, I am ready to believe," says a recent missionary, "exist a country where society approaches more nearly to that (which moralists have sometimes imagined) of a community where truth is unknown, than in Persia; and the only reason why there does not exist a corresponding want of confidence, is, in good part, the inherent vanity of the Persians, which makes them willing to be deceived. I learned for myself, long before leaving the country, that my only security was, to act upon the supposition that every man was unworthy of trust." This, as he justly observes, is not merely the impression to which passing travellers reach, but is the settled conviction of old residents in the country, who have had much opportunity of knowing people in all conditions of life.
The same opinion he quotes as that of "a pious and intelligent gentleman, who had resided twelve successive years in the country,